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Dec 17, 2015

The Chief Rabbi is not a hypocrite

There is still a lot of heat on this boring issue of Bennet meeting with the Conservative school and the Chief Rabbi criticizing him.

I want to focus on a different aspect of that.

In response to the Chief Rabbi's criticism, some people have been trying to catch the Chief Rabbi by looking at his old meetings and looking for a way to call him a hypocrite.

So far I have seen in the general news that they have found 2 incidents of similar meetings of  the Chief Rabbi that enabled them to call him out as a hypocrite:
1. a little while back the Chief Rabbi went to meet with a school in Washington DC. The school is non-denominational, and has children from all streams of Judaism studying within, ranging from Orthodox to Reform and Reconstructionist and others.
2. A new discovery found that the Chief Rabbi last year had a private meeting with the Federation in the USA, and present at the meeting as representatives of the Jewish Federation were people affiliated with the Reform and Conservative movements.

The media therefore called out the Chief Rabbi as a hypocrite, as he himself has met with such people.

In defense of Chief Rabbi Lau I would say that neither of those meetings makes him a hypocrite.
1. The school was non-denominational. Even though it had students who come from families from the Reform and Conservative movements, the school itself is non-denominational. Rabbi Lau gave the Reform and Conservative movements no "legitimacy" by visiting this school.
2. The meeting with Reform and Conservative people in a Federation meeting also gave the movements no legitimacy. It was a Federation meeting, not a Reform meeting. His meeting with them was under the banner of the Federation, not the Reform movement.

The  "ban" on meeting or cooperating with Reform and Conservative was always, as far as I know, at the level of clergy and organization, and not on the level of individual people. As long as he did not meet with these people under the banner of the Reform or Conservative movements, and they are not clergy or in some other way being actively representative of those movements, his meetings with them do not make him a hypocrite when calling out Naftali Bennet for his meetings, which were on an organizational level.

People who want to criticize the Chief Rabbi, or anyone else, for his actions and words, should at least keep the criticism on topic and relevant.

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